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Pans Up Home Cooks! You #GataLoveJolly’s Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk.

As a fan of gata-based dishes, I know the wonders of coconut milk and the magic that it can do to your favorite recipes. That being said, I also know how challenging it is to use coconut milk - not because it is hard to cook with, but because of the preparation process when using it as an ingredient.

For example, when using freshly squeezed gata, you need to do the tedious task of squeezing your own coconut milk. If I'm lucky enough to get an already squeezed version from the market (which rarely happens because freshly squeezed gata is only available during the early hours of the morning), the struggle then is to use it as soon as possible to keep it from spoiling.

This can be a little challenging because it means that you always have to plan to cook your favorite gata dishes. But what if your kids are craving for curry or coconut cream pie, but you don’t have time to run to the market anymore?

As a homemaker, cooking our family’s favorite dishes is one of the best ways that we show and express our love. There’s nothing more heartwarming than the thought of creating something that they can enjoy anytime when they want it. Jolly, the leading brand of packed fruits, vegetables and condiments, aims to answer common kitchen challenges by providing freshly packed ingredients straight to the pantries of homemakers without sacrificing quality. In the case of coconut-based dishes, the brand has two standouts that can finally give moms the chance to cook their family’s gata favorites anytime— Jolly Coconut Milk and Jolly Coconut Cream.

Jolly Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream.

Both ingredients are made with 100 percent real coconuts and are packed with the creamy goodness of fresh gata that is as good and flavorful as the ones you get from the market. Coconut Cream or Kakang Gata has a thicker and richer consistency because it is made from pressing four parts shredded coconut in one part warm water while Coconut Milk (Gata) has a more liquid consistency (similar to cow’s milk) that is made from pressing one part shredded coconut in one part water.

Gata, regardless if it is in cream or milk form, is very versatile on its own. Whether you and your family are craving savory or sweet dishes, there is definitely a recipe where you can use this wonder ingredient. Coconut cream is perfect for savory dishes because its consistency provides a creamier and richer texture common in curries,. Use it for standout Pinoy favorites like Ginataang Isda, Chicken Curry, Ginataang Gulay, Bicol Express, and Laing. Check out our very own recipe for Bicol Express using Jolly Coconut Cream below.

Bicol Express

3 to 4 tablespoons canola oil 
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 large onion, thinly sliced 
1 small ginger, finely chopped 
1 can Jolly Whole Mushrooms 400g, drained and quartered 
1/2 kilo pork belly, cut into cubes 
1 tablespoon shrimp paste 
250mL Jolly Coconut Cream 
1/2 cup water 
3-5 pieces siling labuyo, sliced

  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat then sauté garlic, onion, ginger, and Jolly Mushrooms.
  2. Add cubed pork belly and cook until the pork turns brown. Add shrimp paste.
  3. Add Jolly Coconut Cream and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add water if the sauce becomes too thick.
  4. Add chopped siling labuyo. Remove from heat and serve with hot steaming rice.
Coconut milk, on the other hand, has a unique taste and texture that can give your desserts and beverages a distinct flavor. Crack open a can of it if you’re craving sweet goodies like Maja Blanca, Bibingka, Ginataang Bilo Bilo, Biko, and Ginataang Mais. Here’s our very own recipe for Maja Blanca using Jolly Coconut Milk.

Maja Blanca

2 cans Jolly Coconut Milk 400ml
1 1/2 cups fresh milk
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup latik
1 can Jolly Whole Corn Kernels 425g, drained
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated (for topping)

  1. Combine Jolly Coconut Milk, fresh milk, cornstarch, sugar, cheese and Jolly Whole Corn Kernels in a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly.
  2. Place in a large saucepan and cook while stirring constantly over low heat until thick.
  3. Pour into small mold containers. Cool, then refrigerate until firm.
  4. Top with grated cheese or latik.

As a brand that has always been dedicated to providing high-quality ingredients to Filipino households, Jolly allows homemakers to show their care to their families through hearty, memorable dishes that they can cook anytime. Jolly Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk, in particular, are a true testament to this brand promise because they come in easy-open cans that can be easily stocked in our pantries for times when we want to cook our favorite gata dishes. Not only are they high-quality because they are made from one hundred percent real coconuts, they are also irresistibly creamy so you can expect to enjoy the same goodness from the ones you get from the market. You #GataLoveJolly for that, don’t you think?

Jolly products are available in leading supermarkets, groceries and public markets nationwide. You can also order Jolly Coconut Milk and Jolly Coconut Cream online on and Fly Ace Corporation’s stores on Lazada and Shopee. Need more recipe inspirations that can make you and your family scream #YanAngJollyLove? Follow Jolly’s official Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok accounts now for more ideas.


A Slice of Paradise at Paraiso de Avedad.

In one of my earlier posts, I have mentioned that San Pablo City now has an abundance (or overabundance to be exact) of restaurants, coffee shops, and tea houses. Aside from the aforementioned food establishments, new tourist attractions have also popped in my hometown. This includes Paraiso de Avedad, a leisure park/retreat center in the outskirts of the city, and now one of the most popular tourist spots here in San Pablo. 

Welcome to paradise!

Paraiso de Avedad opened its doors to the public around mid-2022, but only became fully operational around September last year. It was around this time when we first visited the place, thanks to my mother-in-law who wanted to go on some sort of nature trip with the entire family.

Our trip to paradise after the jump!


Jollibee Group and Manila LGU offers jobs to senior citizens and PWDs.

The Jollibee Group, in partnership with the city government of Manila, recently announced the resumption of its inclusive employment program to hire senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWD). 

This partnership resonates with Jollibee Group’s commitment to provide equal employment opportunities to different sectors, while promoting and practicing inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.

Jollibee Group will hire 28 senior citizens and 17 PWDs as customer relations staff across the Manila branches of Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, and Burger King through the city’s Public Employment Service Office (PESO). Manila PESO will screen and determine qualified candidates before endorsing them to the company. Applicants must also secure a medical clearance from the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, the accredited hospital for this program.

Jollibee group and Manila LGU officials.

We started this program in 2019 with the Manila LGU. Working on this program in the past few years have allowed us to see how our elderly and differently abled individuals have appreciated the opportunity find gainful employment. The Jollibee Group continues to support this initiative of the Manila LGU, and we have been very fortunate to have a partner that shares the same desire and passion as the company in looking after the interest of our elderly and PWDs,” said Ruth Angeles, Jollibee Group Vice President and Head for Human Resources-Philippines and Global Organization, Leadership & Culture.

We look forward to forging more partnerships with other LGUs so we can improve more lives and find reliable staff who can join us in our mission to share the joy of eating with everyone,” Angeles added.

The signing of the new memorandum of agreement held last January 31 was attended by Manila City Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, Vice Mayor Yul Servo Nieto, and Secretary to the Mayor Atty. Marlon Lacson, as well as officials from Jollibee Group represented by Public Affairs AVP Atty. Raul Academia and Philippine Region Human Resources Director Anna Prado.

Interested applicants can get more information on this employment program from the Manila Department of Social Welfare and the Office of Senior Citizen’s Affairs.

Tatay Danny, one of Jollibee's 'senior' crew.
Photo credit: Jollibee.

Back in 2019, Jollibee Group was the first restaurant company in the Philippines to partner with the Manila LGU in providing jobs to over a hundred qualified senior citizens and PWDs in the combined 39 branches of Jollibee, Chowking, Mang Inasal, and Greenwich in Manila. Besides Manila, Jollibee Group also partnered with the LGUs of Antipolo and Pasay in 2019 to implement the same inclusive employment program.


Dr. Nielsen Donato and His True Heart for Animals.

What makes you wake up early in the morning?” asks veterinarian Dr. Nielsen Donato while strolling through his animal sanctuary. “It’s not work. It’s something that you’re excited about.”

When people think of veterinarians, they usually think of them tending to household pets, like cats and dogs. But Doc Nielsen isn’t a regular vet. He’s the managing partner and chief surgeon at Vets In Practice (VIP), which caters to not-your-usual pets, and he also has a background in Avian and Exotic Medicine.

But what makes him so special is his unbridled care for virtually any kind of animal, be it crawling, flying, galloping, or slithering.

Zuma the Albino Burmese python and Doc Nielsen pose for the camera.

Doc Nielsen’s passion started when he was around three years old. One of his favorite childhood memories was being excited about going to church just so he could see the yellow chicks and ducklings being sold by vendors outside.

Today, Doc Nielsen helps run the Laguna Wildlife Park & Rescue Center, which sits within his family’s property in Pansol. This non-profit organization houses around 100 species of farm animals and wildlife, including domestic and neglected pets, as well as exotic animals that were rescued from illegal sellers and dangerous living conditions. The wildlife park has everything from chickens and goats to monkeys and a serval cat, which he tends to with the help of his staff. It’s also backed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which assists in acquiring and transporting animals to the park.

Best Friends Forever: Doc Nielsen and Kulit.

The veterinarian calls the park his “happy place,” which he visits as early as 5 am to see all of the animals and listen to the different sounds that envelope the whole park. “When I’m walking here in the morning or afternoon, it relaxes me. Nalilimutan ko yung mga stress, that’s why I call it my ‘haven,’” says Doc Nielsen.

Compassion project
“We support the animals with our own resources,” Doc Nielsen says as he shows the many enclosures in the park that the animals call home. He also provides them with nutritious food and medicine to keep them healthy while they’re living in the park.

Feeding time: Violet, a rescued tortoise, snacks on papaya.

He doesn’t do this alone. Apart from the staff he works with, Doc Nielsen’s family also helps. His kids, Cedric and Nina, are studying veterinary medicine, so they’re well on their way to following in their dad’s footsteps.

Giving animals a second chance
While giving a tour of the park, Doc Nielsen stops to feed and pet the animals he passes by. One of them is a bearcat (binturong), a nocturnal mammal with cat-like features that’s endemic to Palawan. Doc Nielsen explains that the bearcats were transported to the park with the help of DENR, and they are raised until they’re ready to be released back into the wild.

I promised that if I ever breed any endemic wildlife animal in the park, my goal is to help repopulate their species and bring them back to their natural habitat,” he says. He also takes time to assess animals who might need medical attention and treat them right away to prevent infections.

Doc Nielsen demonstrates how to bathe a Bayawak,
with his resident monitor lizard, Bruce.

It’s not always easy for Doc Nielsen to let go of animals, especially those that have been used to being around humans. Many of the monkeys, for example, lived in crowded areas and were treated as pets in their past lives. Releasing them back into the wild would be a safety risk for them because a troop of wild monkeys might hurt them.

This is why he and his staff ensure that animals like these get the care they need so they can live a long and healthy life. The wildlife sanctuary is their safe haven until they are ready to be released in a protected space.

Doc Nielsen at the Laguna Wildlife Park & Rescue Center.

Whether it’s at his clinic in the city or the wildlife park in Laguna, Doc Nielsen is always ready to offer his expertise and care to all types of species, no matter how scary they may seem.

I always dreamed of being someone like [British veterinary surgeon] James Harriot. I’ve always wanted to treat dogs and cats, and farm animals as big as horses, goats, and sheep,” he said. “There weren’t exotic animals to treat yet [when I was just starting out.] Now, I’m lucky because I get to treat more exotic animals, as well as farm animals, in my clinic and the park.” 


The Stoveless Kitchen: Modern Solutions for Modern Problems.

Managing your own space is as fulfilling as it is challenging sometimes. For anyone living in a modern apartment or a condo set-up where every square foot holds its weight in gold, finding the sweet spot between maximizing space and making it conducive for everyday living can be a real struggle.

It's because of this need that so many multi-functional and space-saving household essentials shot in popularity in recent years. But how effective are they for other parts of the home where we usually spend a lot of time doing manual work and prep? Case in point: our kitchens.

Years ago, a regular kitchen was expected to have several appliances to be truly functional. But modern problems require modern solutions, and so a new wave of kitchen partners that can do multiple jobs started taking over households. Think about it: a few years ago, would you have even imagined that you could survive without a stove?

Now you might say, "This isn't even possible at present!" Well, the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer is here to prove you wrong. The latest model from the premium lifestyle brand’s best-selling line of kitchen partners, the Smart Oven Air Fryer is a versatile unit that can do almost anything and everything a home cook needs in their kitchen.

The model’s dedicated air frying setting is just the tip of the iceberg of its note-worthy line of features. With ten cooking functions that include grilling, slow cooking, baking, roasting, and even a pizza-cooking feature, you can skip having a stove–and a dozen other appliances in your kitchen. Make your favorite roast or whip up your favorite crunchy fries in minutes with its dual-speed convection feature that raises hot air and sinks cold air to reduce the cooking time by 30 percent.

The Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer also has an Element IQ System that makes it ideal even for a newbie home cook. The technology is a smart algorithm feature that helps create the perfect cooking environment for different cooking techniques. The advanced sensing and temperature control of this model promises even cooking all the time, eliminating guesswork for its users.

In terms of design, the Smart Oven Air Fryer is crafted for ease of use. It comes with a clear and easy-to-understand LCD Display and an interior oven light that automatically turns on at the end of every cooking cycle. Topping these is its sophisticated and sleek aesthetic which makes it so easy to fit in any modern, classy home.

True enough, the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer checks all the boxes a smart homeowner needs from a cooking appliance. It is sleek, versatile, user-friendly, and can elevate anyone’s creativity in the kitchen regardless of their cooking level. Small space or not, this model is a definite must-have for anyone looking for a kitchen partner that can meet their modern needs.

Do you want to learn more about the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer? Check out their website or follow their Facebook and Instagram pages now for more information.


Floreale - flowers and tea | A Feast for your Senses.

Tucked along the busy streets of San Pablo City is a quaint little cafe that serves not just good food but also great vibes. Say ole' to Floreale, a unique, flower-themed restaurant - the first of its kind in my hometown.

Floreale - flowers and tea.

Floreale means 'flowery'.

With its rustic interiors and cascading flower arrangements, Floreale reminded me of those lovely garden cafes that Yue and I would frequent whenever we're in Seoul. This restaurant also has a homey vibe, with all the wooden furniture and antique decors strewn all over the place.

Reminds me of the lovely garden cafes in Seoul.

Wines and antiques.

Instagrammable interiors.

Everything about this place feels cozy, relaxing, and intimate - probably because it's a family-run business, with the husband and wife at the helm. It's quite heartwarming to see how even their teenage kids help out in the operations, like taking customer orders or manning the till.

Homey vibes.

GCash payments accepted here.

Floreale's menu offers an array of dishes, from pizza and pasta, to sides and salads for sharing. They also have rice meals, and I kid you not, their Sweet Chili Ribs are to die for! Plus, you get a huge rack for a fraction of what you would usually pay for at those super fancy hotel restaurants.

Sweet Chili Ribs, Php 265.

Burger Steak, Php 220.

Chicken Katsu, Php 190.

Garden Fresh Salad, Php 179.

Great food, reasonable price, cozy ambience... what more can you ask for? Well, probably a good cup of coffee, which they also have.

Flavored Fries, Php 89. 
3-Cheese Pizza, Php 200.
Overload Pizza, Php 230.
Hazelnut Coffee, Php 99.

If you're into Instagram-worthy restaurants, and the laidback vibe is your thing, Floreale is definitely worth visiting. It's a complete sensory feast for both your eyes and palate, without breaking your wallet. 
109 M. Paulino St.,
San Pablo City
0945 273 6434


BPI supports artists and art lovers anew in Art Fair Philippines 2023.

BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands), a staunch advocate of Philippine Arts, supports visual artists through partnerships and art lovers through the provision of greater access to artworks in art events such as Art Fair Philippines, which is coming back face-to-face from a three-year hiatus.

As we appreciate the value of artists and their works, we also see the significance of collecting and keeping great artworks, which is why we at BPI continue to provide our support as well to art lovers who, time and time again, visit Art Fair Philippines and acquire valuable artworks,” said Jenelyn Z. Lacerna, the Group Head of BPI Unsecured Lending and Cards, Product and Sales.
Art Fair Philippines 2023, which is happening on February 17-19 at The Link in Ayala Center in Makati City, will feature over 60 exhibitors from the Philippines and overseas as the art exhibition celebrates its 10th year. It is co-presented by BPI and Ayala Land, among other corporate supporters.

To promote art appreciation and further boost the local art scene, BPI offers complimentary access to cardholders of BPI Visa Signature, Platinum Rewards Mastercard, Amore Platinum Cashback, and Gold Mastercard.

At BPI, we consider keepers of valuable art works as art investors, as the works they acquire become part of their investment portfolio,” Lacerna said.

BPI has been the caretaker of more than 1,000 artworks by many prominent Filipino artists, such as Fernando Amorsolo, Jose Joya, and Ben Cabrera. Most of these art pieces are the country’s finest expressions of Philippine culture and are reflective of BPI’s inherent values.

The kind of support BPI gives to art lovers provides them greater access to exclusive events such as Art Fair Philippines, which continues to showcase the country’s vibrant local art scene and helps Filipino visual artists generate support and reach a wider audience,” Lacerna added.

BPI affirms its commitment to recognize and nurture the country’s artistry and talent through its participation in events like this.
One of the many galleries featured in the art fair is Art Cube, which provides a platform for talented young artists to showcase their works before an extensive roster of art collections. The gallery, which will be located on the 5th Level, Booth No. 5, will feature the works of father-and-son Renato and Guerrero Habulan, showing a glimpse of ordinary people: iconic images of the masses, their dignity amid hardship, and as an inspiration. Renato, a post-war and contemporary painter, is one of the most influential and award-winning watercolor artists in the country. Guererro, a recipient of the Thirteen Artists Awards of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, combines different figurative styles and approaches—from hyperrealism to pop surrealism to the “ready-made” images of silk screen printing.

Also featured in this year’s edition of the art fair includes Celine Lee, who has been recognized for her work, including the Juror’s Choice Award of Merit at the Philippine Art Awards in 2020. She has a diverse portfolio that includes paintings, sculptures, embroidery pieces, and multimedia works that show her innovative use of different materials and media.

Art lovers can also check out the works of Winna Go, a finalist in multiple competitions in 2018, such as the LRT Art Competition, Shell National Student Art Competition, Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Competition, and Regional Winner for Philippine Art Awards. In most of her works, she gathers inspiration from the history of the Chinese diaspora, the richness of the Chinese and Filipino culture, her identity and positionality in society, and the beauty of nature.

We invite the art enthusiasts out there to come and join us at the Art Fair Philippines and discover the country’s artistry and talent. Check out the many participating galleries that showcase Filipino artistry at its best,” Lacerna added.

For more information, please visit the Art Fair Philippines website and follow Art Fair Philippines on Instagram (@artfairph) and Facebook (


Be Careful with your Hearts.

Did you know: aside from being known as the month of love, February is also Philippine Heart Month. The yearly celebration aims to promote cardiovascular health and wellness.

As part of its continuing mission to help Filipinos live well, Ajinomoto Philippines Corporation (APC Group) has teamed up with lifestyle doctor Dr. Dex Macalintal in promoting healthy heart education by providing easy and simple ways to keep the heart in tip top shape.

Dr. Dex Macalintal, a registered nutritionist dietitian in practice for about 10 years and a licensed physician for 4 years, shared that Filipinos should practice, “heart above all.”

He noted that when our hearts malfunction, our actions will be limited and so will our productivity. Dr. Dex also highlighted that our hearts help us orchestrate how blood flows in the body which helps our other organs function properly.

In the Philippines, heart disease is the leading cause of death. In 2022, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that over 9,000 Filipinos succumbed to ischaemic heart diseases and over 4,000 died due to cerebrovascular diseases.

Together with Dr. Dex, we want to share how Filipinos can take better care of their hearts by encouraging healthy eating habits and improving our physical health,” APC Group General Manager Corporate Planning and Public Relations Roann Co said.

Photo credit: National Cancer Institute.

Tip #1: Do not smoke, never smoke, or If you smoke, QUIT. NOW.
Studies have proven that chemicals in cigarettes put the heart at risk of heart diseases. Blockage from a clot can lead to a heart attack and to some extent sudden death.

Photo credit: Elena Kloppenburg.

Tips #2 & #3: Exercise regularly and maintain your weight.
Dr. Dex recommends having at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily to help achieve our ideal body weight to minimize the risk of hypertension and stroke.

Photo credit: Anna Pelzer.

Tip #4: Keep a balanced diet.
A diet rich in vegetables, less fat, and less in sodium has already been proven to reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol which are known culprits for putting your hearts at risk of diseases. Dr. Dex shares “Kaya naman, having a balanced diet is very essential in taking care of our health. Mainam na malaman kung gaano karami lamang ang pwedeng kainin so that our weight will be in the ideal range, putting us at the safe zone from lifestyle related diseases.”

To help Filipinos take better care of their heart health, APC Group launched its BawAsin® campaign which aims to help homecooks serve less sodium dishes. One practical way is to lessen the usage of salt and use AJI-NO-MOTO® Umami Seasoning. AJI-NO-MOTO® Umami Seasoning contains only 1/3 amount of sodium compared to table salt, sodium intake can be reduced by up to 40% while maintaining overall deliciousness of food.

The goal of the BawAsin® Campaign is to reduce salt intake which is a preventive move to reduce risks of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Creating less sodium and balanced meals through this campaign can help our community decrease the cases of heart disease and other non-communicable diseases,” Dr. Dex said, “Our continuous exposure to processed foods that are very rich in sodium and salt can put one at risk of these lifestyle-related diseases. Reducing salt and sodium intake just by ½ can be very helpful in the long run,” he added.

The BawAsin® or Bawasan ang Asin campaign is a reflection of the brand’s “Eat Well, Live Well” promise, which aims to help families improve their health by providing ways on how to prepare healthy and delicious meals. These initiatives are in line with the company's ultimate goal of extending the life expectancy of 1 billion people.

With one simple step such as reducing sodium intake can help us take better care of our heart and overall health. With the tips shared by Dr. Dex and the recipes from our BawAsin campaign, we can live a healthier lifestyle while making sure we have delicious meals every single time,” said Co.

For more information about the BawAsin® campaign, visit
For easy-to-follow delicious less sodium recipes checkout


Fall in Love with the New Hot Beverages from The Goodwill Market.

Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?

There’s definitely no better way to perk up during a long workday than with a comforting cup of your favorite hot beverage. The flavour boost from your hot drink of choice can help you give the much-needed boost power through your projects or get through a busy day. To make your refreshments even more wholesome and delicious, The Goodwill Market introduces new coffee, tea, and chocolate drink products that are perfect as breakfast or breaktime companions.

Chek Hup Cham Tarik combines the richness of 100% imported Brazilian coffee beans and Kenya Black Tea with the creaminess of condensed milk. No artificial flavors or sweeteners are added, so each cup brings a naturally smooth burst of energy.

Coffee drinkers can elevate their caffeine fix with Check Hup Kopi Tarik. It is a robust and aromatic blend of 100% Brazilian Coffee with creamy and sweet condensed milk that takes you on a perfectly-brewed taste trip.

Chocolate lovers can try something new, with the Chek Hup Chocolate Drink with Peppermint. This intriguing mix combines the super-rich flavors of fermented cocoa beans with the refreshing taste of peppermint. It is sweetened with Check Hup rock sugar with no artificial chocolate flavouring added.

Enjoy these new Check Hup drink variants conveniently delivered to your doorstep with The GoodWill Market’s online shopping hub that also offers more choices of curated wellness products and health essentials. What’s more, you can sign up for the online newsletter that delivers the latest promos and new product notifications along with interesting content that caters to your healthy lifestyle choices. For more information on The Goodwill Market and to shop securely online, visit


Hidden Gems of the MET.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York is one of the world's greatest art collections. Better known as the MET, this gallery is a point of pride for locals and a must-see attraction for visitors to the city. Art lovers flock here to admire more than 2 million works of art, from ancient Egyptian artifacts to the latest in avant-garde artistic installations. And this incredible collection has made the MET one of the world's most visited art museums.

Photo credit: Carl Newton.

The MET is home to masterpieces by some of the biggest names in art history, including Turner, Caravaggio, Degas, Manet, Renoir, and Picasso. And often, it's tempting to go straight to the best-known paintings and sculptures, especially when you're pressed for time.

But if you have a little more time to spare, we recommend avoiding the crowds that make a beeline from one famous painting to another. The MET also contains some lesser-known gems that are most definitely worth visiting. Drop off your bags at a luggage storage near the MET and check out some of these treasures. Not only will you get to avoid the crowds, but you'll also get bragging rights that you've seen parts of this extensive museum that most people never get to.

Temple of Dendur

When planning a trip to New York, you don't normally expect to find too many Egyptian temples. But that's exactly what you will find at the MET. This is a real Egyptian temple that was ordered to be built by the Roman Emperor Augustus back in 15 BCE. Moved piece by piece from Egypt when the construction of the Aswan High Dam began in 1960, the Egyptian government gifted the temple to the United States and reassembled it in the MET. That makes it one of the most significant ancient Egyptian ruins in the Western Hemisphere and a place any budding Egyptologists have to see for themselves.

Human-headed Winged Bull

In the culture of ancient Assyria, which occupied the territory known in the modern era as Iraq, lamassus were powerful mythical creatures that protected the empire from its enemies, both mortal and spiritual. Given that the Assyrian Empire collapsed in the seventh century BC, not many images of lamassus remain. But you will find some fairly spectacular examples in the MET, including a human-headed winged bull that once served as the guardian at the entrance to an Assyrian palace.

Photo credit: Thomas Eidsvold.

Thomas Cole's View from Mount Holyoke

This 1836 painting is considered one of the masterpieces of American landscape art. It is also considered the first major work of US artist Thomas Cole and was inspired by his own visit to Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts. Although it takes up a relatively small space on the MET's wall, it is often cited as an example of how American landscape painting developed during the 19th century.

Hearing Sphinx

This sculpture commemorates a legend that dates back to ancient Greece concerning a woman named Rhea who was so moved by hearing Apollo play his lyre that she created a sphinx with ears large enough to capture all the music. The sculpture captures this moment perfectly, with one ear cocked toward Apollo, and it has been described as "one of the most moving works in Western art." Seeing this piece at the MET is sure to captivate your own senses.

A Bedroom from Pompeii

The Roman city of Pompeii is rightly famous for being one of the most fascinating archaeological ruins in the world. Buried by a volcanic eruption in 79 A.D., the city was preserved under tons of ash for centuries until excavations began in the 18th century. The excavation of Pompeii is still ongoing, but the city forms one of the most stunning relics of the Roman world left on earth.

If you can’t make the journey all the way to southern Italy to see Pompeii for yourself, the next best thing might be to visit the MET. The museum is home to a reconstructed bedroom complete with authentic frescoes from the ruins themselves that were shipped to New York in the 20th century. It's amazing to see a room where people lived and slept so long ago, and it's one of the highlights of the museum's Roman collection.

Photo credit: Jouwen Wang.

Velazquez's Juan de Pareja

One of the greatest painters ever to emerge from Spain, Diego Velazquez, was commissioned by King Philip IV to paint a portrait of his slave, Juan de Pareja. It is one of the most remarkable works in the entire MET gallery, and it's hard not to be moved when viewing this painting. Not only does it evoke powerful feelings about the cruelty of slavery, but it also captures something truly special about one particular person – Juan de Pareja himself – who managed to rise above his circumstances to become a respected court painter in Madrid.

Bedroom from the Sagredo Palace

The MET houses one of the largest collections of ancient art and artifacts in the world, and it's easy to get lost in these galleries for hours. But hidden among them is a genuine gem – a bedroom from the Sagredo Palace in Venice dating back to the 18th century. The room is filled with furniture, paintings, and frescoes that you can imagine were once used by an important religious or political figure of their time. It's an exquisite work of art that deserves our appreciation, no matter how many centuries ago it was created.

Persian Prayer Niche

The highlight of the MET's highly praised Islamic collection, this prayer niche was created by an artist working in the court of the Persian ruler, Shah Tahmasp. The intricate detail and vibrant colors of this work show why it has been described as one of the most beautiful examples of Islamic decorative art ever made. Seeing this piece at the MET is sure to inspire awe and admiration in even the most seasoned art connoisseur.

Pablo Picasso's portrait of Gertrude Stein

This portrait of the iconic writer and art patron Gertrude Stein is, unsurprisingly, one of the most popular works at the museum. Painted by Pablo Picasso in 1906 when he was just 24 years old, it's a stunning representation of his style at that time. It also serves as an important reminder of how much influence Stein had on Picasso's work and on the entire development of modern art in general.

Photo credit: Rachel McDermott.

Met Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar

Finally, no visit to the MET would be complete without checking out its iconic rooftop garden café. This is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the museum galleries and enjoy some delicious food with amazing views of Central Park. But if you are looking for something a bit more exciting, then the Martini Bar on the roof should definitely be on your list. Here you can relax with a cocktail while admiring breathtaking views of New York City from one of the most stunning spots in town.


This selection of hidden gems makes it clear that The Metropolitan Museum of Art has something special in store for everyone who visits it; whether it’s an ancient sculpture, a bedroom from Pompeii, or even a rooftop bar with a view, the MET is sure to provide a unique and unforgettable experience. So plan your visit today and discover these hidden gems for yourself!


Make It Count with Money Games at

Remember my nephew Morgan who loves music, Math, and Super Mario? Well, he's now five years old and is officially enrolled in preschool. He's been attending in-person classes  since the start of the year (one hour session, three times a week), and so far, he finds school fun and interesting. He's also made a lot of new friends, being the congenial little boy that he is.

Currently, he's on a week-long "health break" (sort of a semestral break, only shorter), like most preschool and grade school kids here in the Philippines. No homework or modules for now, but he's making productive use of his time by playing board games, singing karaoke, and swimming at the pool. When he's given screen time, he either plays Super Mario on his Nintendo Switch or goes through all the different video games at the Mortgage Calculator website.

My bubbly five-year old nephew, Morgan.

I chanced upon the Mortgage Calculator website while doing some research on real estate and home loans. As the name implies, the website has online calculators that can help you compute monthly home loan payments using different loan terms, loan amounts, and interest rates. They also have savings calculators, refinance calculators, and even home affordability calculators which can give you an estimate of how much you can afford to borrow for your new home. All these came in very handy for my research, but it was the money games that made me stay longer on this website - long enough for Morgan to see what I was doing on my computer and try the games for himself. 

Here are some of Morgan's favorite games on Mortgage Calculator.

Cash Back.

Select the number of bills and coins and give the change.

Cash Back is a basic arithmetic game where players use bills and coins to give the customers their correct change. It's a fun way to introduce money to kids, and teach them how to calculate using the different denominations. 

Supermarket Numbers.

Click the appropriate blocks to get the number on the upper left.

Another arithmetic game is Supermarket Numbers. The game starts with addition blocks, where you have to select two numbers to add up to the numerical goal shown on the top left. As the game advances, more blocks are added with functions like subtraction, multiplication, and division. 

Tap Supermarket.

Click on the customers at the counter and the empty shelves that need to be refilled.

On the other hand, Tap Supermarket is a grocery store simulation game where you oversee the store operations from manning the till, refilling the shelves, and managing the stocks. You earn money by checking out the customers in the payment counter, which you can then use to purchase new display racks and expand your store inventory. As the game progresses and you gain more experience, you can unlock the second checkout counter and a third grocery stocker.

Pizza Cafe.

Serve the customers immediately before the hearts run out.

Another simulation game is Pizza Cafe where you need to serve customers with the pizza that they ordered. There are different pizza variants which require different ingredients, and you need to assemble, cook, and send them to the conveyor belt until it reaches the customer. There is a time limit, so you need to make the pizza as quickly as possible before the customer walks out. You can also use the phone at the bottom right to order ingredients once they've ran out.

Hidden Food.

Click on the object as soon as you spot them.

Finally, there's Hidden Food, a simple search game where you have to find food items or kitchen appliances hidden among a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, and other things related to food and cooking. The game starts easy, but as you advance to the different levels, it gets a tad more difficult as you need to find more items while the board becomes more densely packed. Surprisingly, Morgan managed to get to Level 10 with a bit of help from me. 

Enjoying some screen time on the iPad.

There are dozens upon dozens of fun games at the Mortgage Calculator website, and every single one of them is free to play. No sign-ups needed, no downloads required. Everything is browser-based so all you need to do is simply go to the website and click on the game that you would like to play. The site is ad-free, so you don't have to worry about annoying pop-ups or irrelevant ads showing up on screen. 

Yue will be having his "health break" next week, and from the looks of it, he'll be spending most of his break playing these money games as well.